This page will be updated as information changes.
Stay tuned for details about future in-person gatherings.
There will still be online worship gatherings for those who are not able to come or are not ready to gather. If you are sick, at risk, or been with someone who is sick, don’t come. Let us know and we will pray for you, but stick with online worship.
If you come to either gathering, we are asking you to bring a mask. If you do not bring a mask, one will be provided for you. When you get to your physically distanced place, you can take your masks off, but while coming and going, while going inside to use the restrooms, and while socializing, etc. please use your mask. This makes it possible for all who desire to come to come.
Bring lawn chairs or a blanket to sit on. On the other hand, services will be an hour or less, so if you want to stand the whole time, you can. We will spread out on the flat lawn between the church and the ponds. Sit together as families but be respectful of distances from others.
Download the Calvary App before the service. It will be an easy way for you to sign in, see any announcements, and to have access to song lyrics for the worship songs being played at the service. calvarysc.org/app
Bathrooms will be available.
Bring your own coffee.
If it’s bad weather, rain date will be the 26th.
No kids ministry yet.
Pastor Dan's Regathering Update, Posted: June 12, 2020
Transcript (click for transcript)
Hey Calvary, I told you last weekend that we would be getting more news out to you by midweek… and it’s midweek, or maybe a day past mid-week, but it’s still not the weekend. Anyway… here goes…
First of all let me answer the question that I know is on the tip of everyone’s tongue on this summer day at this moment… why are you still wearing a sweater vest? I like-them, they hide my girth… I know it doesn’t look like they do, but when you see me without a vest… then you know… so thanks for starting with an easy question.
Then the second question on everyone’s mind… when are we going to regather? And I’m calling it regathering, because we never closed the church, so it’s not a reopening. And we never stopped being the church so it’s not a restarting… In fact, I am humbled and amazed at the many ways that so many of you have kept being the church during this time, from giving almost $100,000 in the community relief fund to serve people in our community, to finding ways to love your neighbors, to connecting online in zoom-life-groups and connecting online for weekend worship church. So we didn’t stop or close, but we did stop gathering… so when are we going to regather.
Or let me start by answering the question, why aren’t we regathering right now? I know that’s the question that some of us are asking. So let me hit that one first.
First of all, let me acknowledge that some congregations who are already regathering, locally, throughout Central PA, and around the country… there are churches I respect that have already opened or are opening soon and there are churches I respect that still haven’t set a date. In fact some, are waiting till fall. Locally a number of congregations like the Alliance and Unity Church of Jesus Christ are on a similar timetable to us. I’ll share that timetable in a moment. Statewide Grace Church of Erie, which we partner with on a number of things, is on a similar timetable.
The reality is that we are in a unique situation compared to a lot of churches. We are larger, one of the largest in central PA and we have gatherings in three different counties. This weekend will be the first weekend that Mifflin County hits green.
In the last couple of months I’ve spent a lot of zoom-time with three different sets of pastors, locally the CityChurch pastors, a group of 13 or 14 of us, a group of pastors from some of the largest churches in PA, and finally a group of pastors from all over North America. The primary topic has been regathering. For those churches that are already getting started, they are typically seeing 10-40% of their average attendance coming back in those first weeks. Now I love our gatherings and I miss our gatherings, and hugs or not, I’m looking forward to regathering, but I’ll be honest the details and work these congregations are putting in for that 10-40% who are ready to return, it kind of drains me just thinking about it. The cleaning guidelines, and the reservations to make sure that not too many people come, discussions about masks or no masks, in some cases one church is training the mask bouncers. In another case they’re giving people stickers. Red stickers for stay away and green sticker for I don’t care, give me a hug. It gives me pause.
But here’s the deal…for me as your pastor…this has less to do with guidelines and percentages and masks and risk. I’m not afraid of regathering, if you think I’m motivated by fear in these decisions, you don’t know me. If you've been joining us in this sermon series, and if you haven’t would you please go back and listen to my last three messages, Dry Bones, Scattering the Light, and In the Storm, they really set the stage for what I’m talking about now.
In the storm message, you heard me say I believe this is not a temporary time, it's a transitional season. If it's a temporary time, then the goal is to get out of the interruption as quickly as possible... Get back to normal. If it's a transitional season, then the goal is to get into it as deeply as we need to so that God can prepare us for the next chapter. Transitional seasons are times when God does some of his most transformational work. I believe this is a transitional season, not a temporary time. Instead of going back to normal we want to surrender forward. And that in that surrendering forward, you heard me say in the Scattering the Light message, I think Jesus is more interested in how we scatter than in how we gather. We need to love our neighbors – that’s where church is.
I and the leaders at Calvary are doing our very best to listen to God and follow Jesus as we lead… and honestly the consensus as leaders have prayed and discussed is that Jesus hasn’t done all that He needs to do before we regather.
That’s why we launched into a 40 Day Season of prayer and fasting and action with a daily dry-bones prayer and a weekly assignment. Culminating in a prayer-tent and a season of prayer. Honestly, I think this might be one of the most important times in the history of Calvary.
So you might ask, Dan, what do you think still needs to be done before we gather. I don’t know for sure. But I can tell you what I’m asking God to do. I’m asking God to light a fire for prayer in our hearts. I’m so thankful for those who are answering that call already. But listen, please hear my heart, the numbers of people who have signed up for the REVIVE mission is less than 10% of the people who call Calvary home, it’s closer to 5%. The number of people who have taken a spot on the central PA 24/7 prayer wall is about 15% and that’s after weeks and weeks of promoting it. I don’t think we realize yet how desperate we are for God to work. I don’t think we realize yet how dry our bones are.
I’m also asking Jesus, the builder of the church, to change our perspective on where church happens. I love weekend worship. I love corporately, when we come together to worship. I’m praying that Monday through Saturday will become an even more important part of our church life than Sunday. I’m praying that our front-yard missions would become even more important to us than the front door of our church buildings.
Finally, I’m asking that the Spirit of God would light a fire of repentance in our hearts that leads to a more radical commitment to Christ and sacrificial love for others. Our world needs that now. I think that we, and by we I mean me, us, we’ve grown a bit complacent with our sin, made excuses for not obeying God, and I think God is calling us to wake up.
So when are we going to regather? Well, in spite of feeling like there’s these things that God needs to do, there are some dates that we put on,
There is more information on the website, but here is the short version, through June we will continue to do online weekend worship only. On July 12th, we will hold an outdoor evening Flood gathering, possibly with Unity Church, we’re still working on that. That first meeting we will ask everyone to bring masks. On July 17 we will end our 40 day mission.
On July 19th, we will host an outdoor worship gathering at Harvest Fields. That will be our first time to regather on a Sunday morning.
This will start a process of other dates which you will begin to see on our website… a series of dates leading into August and the fall.
For those who are not ready to regather, we will continue the same high-quality online experience. In fact, we will likely never stop doing that. That will be part of our next chapter.
At the same time, in June and throughout the summer, we are encouraging other ways to regather in smaller groups. LifeGroups, meeting at somebody’s home around a firepit outside, outside, or out here at Harvest Fields, Sunday watchparties, neighborhood gatherings, outside is better than inside right now, but it’s up to your group. We’re not dictating what that looks like. And our gatherings are starting to host mid-sized fellowship regatherings we are calling a party and a prayer. Just an opportunity to get together and see each other, have some fellowship, and finish by praying for each other.
Finally, if my words have any bearing, any influence with you, would you go to calvarysc.org/revive and sign up to be part of our REVIVE Mission. There is a daily prayer assignment using the Dry Bones prayer and some other prayer points, and there will be a weekly action assignment. This week has been the Front Yard Mission Dry Bones track. I just want to encourage you now, not later, now, not later, we’re already down to, like, 35 days, is the time to be a part of what God is doing. When we come together it’s going to be good because our hearts have been in the process, our minds, our hands, our feet, have been in the process of doing exactly what God has been calling us to do during this season.
I love being your pastor, I love being a part of Calvary. And I‘m looking forward to what God wants to do in the days, months, years to come. Thanks Calvary.
Information on Coronavirus COVID-19
Posted: May 23, 5:30pm
Hey Calvary Family,
When this whole coronavirus hit the fan back in March, fairly quickly I realized that the only constant was how quickly information and guidelines could change. I shouldn’t be surprised that the same thing is true as we come to the other side.
So to recap, we (all three counties in which Calvary gathers) are currently in the yellow phase. As you know, the yellow phase includes guidelines like crowds less than 25, masks, and physical distancing. So I shared with you some of my yellow phase thoughts in the video above.
(Actually they are more than yellow phase thoughts, I’m sharing the principles that are guiding our decisions, what God has been up to at Calvary, and some of what I think He wants to do in the future. So if you haven’t watched the video, please do!)
Back to the recap… In the yellow phase, we are aiming to continue a great weekend online presence, continue all the other touchpoints of ministry we’ve been doing, and begin to get people together face-to-face in smaller groups. To be honest, I was doubtful that we would go into the green phase any time before July.
But that changed yesterday, when we found out how close Centre County is to going green. We missed the first round by two votes, but if everything holds steady we will be in green by June 5th. At this time, we do not know how that will change the state guidelines. More information is coming from the state next week. This will shape our plan moving forward; but it will require a bit more work at the whiteboard! So I appreciate your patience. More info to come from us in the next week or so.
In the meantime, let me answer a few frequently asked questions…
When will we gather again, in person for corporate worship? Not this weekend or the next. But if everything holds steady, we will gather in some way (perhaps outdoors, or drive-in church) in June. Probably not the first weekend, but I need to get more leadership heads into the discussion. Huggers be patient…(actually no hugging till I say so.)
What about those who are at higher risk or simply aren’t ready to gather yet? No problem! We will be continuing the same quality online worship experience throughout this time. In fact, that will probably be part of our new normal.
What about President Trump’s declaration that churches should reopen because they are essential “businesses?” Actually, from the very beginning Governor Wolf and his team have been very respectful towards churches. From the beginning they have qualified churches as essential-for-life “businesses.” This has made it possible for us to honor their recommendations and still bring in groups larger than 10 people to shape and lead our online worship gathering. Throughout the last months, they have made it clear that for churches, their recommendations are requests not rules. We, along with many other churches have seen fit to honor those requests.
But isn’t it wrong to close the church? You know the answer to that question. We haven’t closed the church. In fact, this may be one of the most vibrant two months that the church of central PA has experienced in a long time. At Calvary, giving is strong. Weekend engagement with the worship and message is significantly higher than normal. We have more touchpoints with gathering pastors than ever before and most of you have been personally contacted more than once, just to see how you are doing. Because of the Community Relief Fund, God’s reputation for generosity is growing. Almost 500 people from 30+ churches are praying almost 700 hours a week for revival. And I can give you story after story of people serving in the community, looking for ways to love their neighbors and be still with God. To be honest, if that’s what closed looks like… Well, we are nowhere near perfect, but we have certainly been open for business!
But isn’t somebody, somewhere, in some way against the church and shouldn’t we resist their control? Yes, but don’t miss who the somebody is, where that somebody finds their power, and how we should resist. Paul gives the answer in Ephesians 6. “for our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, the spiritual forces of darkness in the heavenly places.” And if you want to know how best to resist those forces…and you haven’t already listened to this weekend’s message (May 23/24), grab a candle and go and listen to “Scattering the Light.”
Do you think we are entering the end times? Yes. But that probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. And I’m saving that one for an upcoming message. :)
So what in the world is God doing? If there are three amazing things that I know God is doing in the world, there are three billion amazing things of which I have no clue. But I do believe he is shaking the church, scattering us to our neighborhoods, and preparing us for a great next chapter. Our vision to see the number of Christ-followers in Central PA double by 2030 has not been on pause, it’s been on catapult. Like I said in the video, I’m not sure if I’ve ever been more proud to be a part of the Calvary family…and I’m looking forward to what God is going to do in and through us in the days to come.